Bronze-level articleCreation science

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We take this revealed framework of history as our basic datum, and then try to see how all the pertinent data can be understood in this context
—Whitcomb and Morris, preface to The Genesis Flood

Creation "science" is the pretense of making a scientific description of the Genesis creation myth, in the mistaken idea that faith in these concepts is, somehow, not enough for a believer.

Creation science tends to focus on two areas: firstly creationism itself, but secondly, and possibly more importantly, it focuses on denigrating existing science, either specifics such as with evolution or more generally as a method. This is an attempt by fundamentalists to create the illusion that science is entirely a faith-based system,[1] to show that their faith-based system (whatever this system preaches) is just as valid as actual science. The major problem of this, however, is that it is bollocks.

Science, while having many definitions and nuances, is fundamentally the application of observation to produce explanation, iteratively working to produce further predictions, observations and explanations. On the other hand, creationism begins with the assertion that a Biblical[2] account is literally true and tries to shoehorn observations into it. The two methods are fundamentally incompatible. In short, "creation science" is an oxymoron.

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[edit] Contrast to science

It is entirely possible for the statement "the world was created in a quasi-magical event 6000 years ago" to be tested by science - that is, by observation. One simply asks what we would expect to see if it was true, and look for it. Unfortunately for creationists, this question has pretty much been solved, so they have to invent a new method to make it true. So, the statement "the world was created in a quasi-magical event 6000 years ago", and its ramifications, is used by creationists in a very different way from science.

[edit] Falsifiability

One of the pillars of the scientific method is that scientific theories should be falsifiable. This property is attributed in the modern era to Karl Popper, but isn't unique to him and goes back further, and states that in science there has to be some potential observation that would show a theory to be wrong. This is simply because if there were no way to disprove an idea, it could always be said to be true no matter what, which not only isn't very interesting but doesn't present a pathway for our knowledge to grow. Various parables have been made to explain what falsifiability is, including Russell's Teapot and Carl Sagan's The Dragon in My Garage.

Unfortunately, this reasoning is counter-intuitive to some and may be the reason that creation science doesn't work well with the concept of falsifiability. The thinking seems to be that if you define something to be correct regardless of evidence, then you must also be correct regardless of evidence. Hopefully, no one will need to read any Karl Popper or Bertrand Russell to realise that that doesn't work.

Creation science falls at this hurdle, as there is no known way to falsify a creation event the way they use it. Unless creationists impose limits on their chosen creator, which they are naturally loath to do, there is no way to really falsify a creation event. For a creator can choose to create whatever they will, in whatever manner they will, so any possible scenario could be "explained" by a creation event. Goalposts may be moved, or the position can resemble Last Thursdayism, but nothing will change a creation scientist's mind about their subject matter. So, in being able to answer every question, creation science in effect answers none of them. Floating axe heads, burning bushes, talking snakes, etc. are all capable of being explained by a supernatural creator, so what is left to test (falsify) the idea? Nothing.

[edit] Cherry picking

One of the main problems that creation science has is that it often fails to include all available data. As seen in creationist debating tactics such as the Gish Gallop, the idea is that if one point in a thousand holds (or, at least, isn't responded to instantaneously) the idea must be true. And so, you can ignore radiocarbon dating because occasionally it's unreliable due to contamination - and you can also ignore potassium/argon dating because C-14 has a maximum dating time. Or that the Grand Canyon is evidence of a global flood - but the lack of a Grand Canyon in the Sahara desert is either inconsequential or also evidence of a global flood.

Creation 'science' only attempts to prove the idea by whatever evidence it can find - even if the evidence doesn't actually support it - and ignores or excuses any evidence against it. Real science doesn't make excuses for evidence.

[edit] Scientific conclusions

Scientific study starts by examining evidence and drawing conclusions from the evidence. Creationism starts with a bible based conclusion (or interpretation) and attempts to look for evidence to support the conclusion. This much is clear, and it's also admitted to by many creationists. As Ken Ham, founder of Answers in Genesis (AiG), put it: "By definition, no apparent, perceived or claimed evidence in any field, including history and chronology can be valid if it contradicts the Scriptural record."[3] The thing is, they don't see this as a problem - they view the problem as entirely the responsibility of science, for failing to endorse presuppositionalism among many other logical fallacies and methodological flaws that plague creationism as "science".

Circular logic is also an error that creationists admit to. Circular logic starts with a foregone conclusion, and derives from it the exact same conclusion - we don't learn anything, so it's pointless and doesn't provide supporting evidence. Yet, responding to the criticism of circularity, Darius and Karin Viet of AiG said, "The common accusation that the presuppositionalist uses circular reasoning is actually true. [...] Yet if used properly, this use of circular reasoning is not arbitrary and, therefore, not fallacious." which is, in short, the opposite of true.

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, the entire point of science, the entire methodology for learning about the world through observation, requires us to hold ideas up against reality to see where they break and fail to produce accurate predictions. Creationists refuse to do this, and even admit to it, so the mantle of "creation science" is very much a misnomer. The "science" tag, therefore, has little to do with these people performing real science according to the methods laid out by rational/skeptical empiricism, and everything to do with them adopting and then denigrating the term "science" for their own ends: to produce the illusion that their thinking is just as valid as real science.

[edit] Baraminology

According to Young Earth Creationism the earth and all animals were created during Creation Week. The animals were created in non-evolving kinds the study of which is called Baraminology. In an effort to further their cause, YECs have built a Creation Museum.

[edit] Geology, and other things that aren't in the Bible

As the global flood of Genesis is also believed to be true, a separate element of creation "science" deals with flood geology.

Creation science acknowledges some decidedly non-Biblical aspects of prehistory which have been proven during the modern period by geological, archaeological and paleontological evidence, such as ice ages and the existence of dinosaurs. In creationist chronologies, these are fitted incongruously around the events described in Genesis.

[edit] Creation Scientist

To a young earth creationist, a creation "scientist" is any degree-holding person who—no matter in what field, discipline or even whether they do any research, experimentation or propose any hypotheses—believes the Genesis account to be the literal truth (e.g. the Creation Ministries International "list of scientists alive today who accept the biblical account of creation").

Many of the world's foremost pioneers in scientific fields such as Sir Isaac Newton and Johannes Kepler are thus considered creation scientists by young earth creationists because they did not believe in evolution or the Big Bang Theory and held to special creation—the ruling paradigm of the time.

This ignores the fact that these scientists had none of the knowledge we have today regarding modern science, leading one to wonder if they would have been (or remained) creationists if they were alive today. One such creationist, when presented with this argument, wondered whether Charles Darwin would have been an evolutionist if presented with modern "creation science."[citation needed]

[edit] Intelligent design

As it has proved almost impossible for creationists to get creationism taught in public schools in the US, the Discovery Institute came up with another pseudoscience — Intelligent Design. Intelligent design is effectively creationism with a thin veil of neutrality and a thick coating of pseudoscience. It does not name a designer or promote a specific creation myth (ex. the Genesis account), although many adherents of ID believe in the Judeo-Christian god. It attempts to give scientific evidence for "design" of the universe, yet falls into the same trap as creation "science" by not following the scientific method and being based on religious ideas.

[edit] See also

[edit] Footnotes

  1. The Emperor Has No Clothes, Naturalism and The Theory of Evolution One author claims scientists refuse to admit that evolution and natural selection are wrong in the same way that the characters in Andersen's famous story refused to admit that the emperor was naked.
  2. There are other religions that promote creationism, but primarily it stems from fundamentalist Christianity in the US. Islam, for instance, often preaches against evolution, but very rarely for special creation 6000 years ago - and the creation/evolution controversy is practically unheard of in Hinduism.
  3. AiG - Statement of Faith
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